John’s Gospel: Chapter 9:18-41 (“I was blind, but now I see”)

(John 9:18-21 ESV) 18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight  19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”  20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.  21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”

We lawyers have this (cynical) saying: “When the law is against you, argue the facts; when the facts are against you, argue the law; when both are against you, just argue.” (There are other punch lines available.)

And so the Pharisees, unable to argue Law as against the facts, sought to dispute the facts.

When they called the parents, the facts were confirmed. But the parents, intimidated by the leaders, refused to get involved — somewhat callously demanding that their newly healed son defend what had happened. We’ll soon see the reason for their fear.

(John 9:22-23 ESV) 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.)  23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

To be “put out” of the synagogue was evidently much the same as being disfellowshipped in the church. It would have been humiliating and would have meant the loss of lifelong friends. They were terrified of being caught up in the dispute.

(John 9:24-25 ESV)  24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.”  25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

The Pharisees sought to indirectly silence the man, urging him to credit God instead of Jesus. They could all agree that it’s God who heals the blind. They were looking for a political solution, that is, a half-truth.

But the blind man, oblivious to his place in a cosmic war, insisted that facts are facts. Facts are such stubborn things …

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Finally, the formerly blind man has all of their blindness he can take —

(John 9:26-27 ESV)  26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”  27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”

To him, it’s simple. Why are we debating the obvious? But he was not burdened with a worldview that so horribly misunderstood God. You see, that’s the problem with the Pharisees. They worshiped a God who cared far more about the rules than his people. They’d missed the heart of God and so utterly misunderstood his commands.

(John 9:28-29 ESV)  28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.  29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”

The Pharisees try to claim the moral high ground: “We are disciples of Moses!” They claimed a convenient ignorance, not knowing enough about Jesus — but then, neither had they bothered to ask. Why not approach the prophet and learn from him? Well, they preferred to look down their noses at him.

If the facts and the law are against you, slander the witness.

(John 9:30-33 ESV)  30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.  31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.  32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.  33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

And now we see why Jesus chose this man out of all the blind men in Judea! This is why he was sent to the Pool of Siloam — so he’d be sent to the Pharisees and the crowds to testify about Jesus. What a rare personality he was.

He may have been blind and have never seen, much less read, a Torah scroll, but he knew far more Torah than the scholars.

He argues plainly: if Jesus were a sinner, God could not respond to his prayer to heal the blind. Because God plainly is the source of the healing (the Pharisees had already conceded), and because God had chosen to work through this man, he had to be from God. No one but God can cure blindness!

(John 9:34 ESV)  34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

The Pharisees, unable to deal with the facts or the Law, sought to discredit him — hoping to destroy his testimony by branding him an utter sinner. They slandered him and removed him from the synagogue. He was disfellowshipped.

(John 9:35-37 ESV)  35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”

Jesus, always compassionate, found the man to reveal himself as the “Son of Man.” In this context, Jesus surely didn’t merely mean “a human.” He was referring to himself in the sense of Daniel 7:13, the Messiah.

(John 9:38 ESV)  38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

The man worshiped Jesus. The Greek word is proskuneo. As we discussed with regard to John 4 (worship in Spirit and in truth), this is a word used in the Old Testament of worship at the Temple by offering animal sacrifice. Thus, John is impliedly but plainly contrasting this true worship to the worship of the Pharisees.

This is the first use of proskuneo in John after Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman. This is worship in Spirit and in truth. This man had been healed by God’s Living Waters. He’d heard the gospel: that Jesus is the Christ. And so he worshiped — not by following a rulebook but by following his Jesus-transformed heart.

(John 9:39 ESV)  39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Jesus explains what just happened in cosmic terms. His purpose is to turn the world upside down. He’ll give sight to the blind and blindness to the sighted. He is speaking very much in the mode of the Old Testament prophets — except he’s claiming to have been sent to do what God does (Deu 28:28-29; Zec 11:17).

The Pharisees, enraged by this assault on their entire worldview, do not react well at all.

(John 9:40-41 ESV) 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”  41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

The judges are judged. They claimed to know the answers, although having none. They wrongly accused and removed a good man from their fellowship. They claimed to have the right to judge others due to their superior learning, and as a result, they are judged by God for their ignorance.

It’s not an enviable position to find oneself in. Jesus, speaking for God, is obviously not happy with these Pharisees at all.

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About Jay Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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